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August 1 will be a big day in Paris: not only is Peninsula Hotels finally opening its rather grand entry into Europe, the Plaza Athénée will start welcoming guests again after a closure of just under a year.
Almost two years after Sydney's iconic Observatory Hotel changed owners to become The Langham Sydney, the property will close its door to undergo a massive renovation to make the space a lot more, well, Langham.
The first day of renovations is scheduled for July 24. Over the next four months, all 96 guest rooms, the lobby, dining areas and the residential-style ballroom will see a bit more than a few new coats of paint. Spending around $30 million AUD, the hotel will install a new design element, to bring it more in-line with their other properties around the globe.
Each of the rooms will trade their stuffy, dated interior for a more modern, white-washed decor with herringbone hardwood-floors, modern furnishings and gold and teal accents marrying high-end luxe with colonial charm. Being one of the only hotels in Sydney to offer balconies in each room, guests will be able to enjoy the near perfect Sydney weather from the comfort of their own room.
Tokyo’s Toranomon Hills Tower may have only just opened, Andaz hotel and all, but one of the classic hotels nearby is planning its own future skyscraper already: the Hotel Okura Tokyo – famous for its 1960s time capsule lobby – will close next year August for four years of redevelopment.
Come February 2019, a brand new two-tower complex should be finished, which will increase room count from just over 400 to 550, adding office space in the process. Design will maintain “traditional Japanese aesthetics” while bringing in all the latest technological equipment – and looking at some of the room photos on the hotel’s website, they look like they could use some work. Half of the hotel’s grounds will be turned into a green “metropolitan oasis”.
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And so the wave of grande dame hotels embarking on major renovations continues: this time, it’s the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, in the tiny principality of Monaco, which will start four years’ worth of work this October.
While we initially thought the hotel would close its doors entirely, it’s taking a slightly different approach and will continue to operate “on a reduced scale”. In order to prepare for the work, the hotel will indeed shut from October 6 to mid-December, but reopen for the holiday season, with full work kicking off on January 18 next year.
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At the time of closure – and based on a sign that was displayed on its front door until not too long ago – we had hoped for a return just before the 2014 festive season. But the first delay is already in the bag: the hotel’s website now talks about reopening on March 31, 2015.
For loyal fans of famous Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz Paris, these dark winter months must be the hardest of all during its two-year plus closure. August last year, when the last drink was poured, is a long time ago, and reopening at the end of next year (if all goes as planned) is still far away.
So what to do? Well, for a (very) lucky few, the answer lies at 30,000 feet. The hotel has partnered with national flag carrier Air France to create “Bar Hemingway in the Sky”, which will see Colin Field, head bartender of Hemingway, stepping onboard to mix, shake, and stir among the clouds.
It's been a long time since The Lanesborough has seen patients coming through its doors (the classic 1827 structure used to be a hospital), but now the time has come for the hotel itself to go in for a little work. The London outpost of Starwood's St. Regis Hotels will begin extensive renovations sometime in spring next year, that much we've confirmed, but all else is still very hush-hush. No word on the exact scale, how long it will take, or who will oversee it.
We do have a sneaking suspicion The Lanesborough will pull a Ritz Paris (or Plaza Athenee. or Crillon) and close up shop completely for a while, as reservations beyond early next year do not seem to be possible through its website (the official word is that the hotel will make every effort to avoid any inconvenience to its guests during the renovation).
We will keep you posted as more details become available. Meanwhile, a Deluxe Room at The Lanesborough goes for £380 (about $590) a night this coming weekend if you're keen to sample it as it is today. Or there is always that spa package of course.
[Photo: St. Regis Hotels]
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Back in February, we received word that Rosewood Hotels would be planning its return to both the United Kingdom and Europe with the opening of Rosewood London in October this year. New hotel announcements usually aren’t followed by an opening in the same year, but Rosewood is achieving this by overhauling the (formerly Renaissance) Chancery Court Hotel on High Holborn.
That overhaul is now one step closer, with the hotel closing down as of end of July, ready to start feeling the full impact of the $130 million the group is spending on the transformation of the 1914 Grade-II listed building. How long it will take to spend that money? Just three months, as re-opening is promised for early October.
Among the printable things that make us gasp are unexpected sightings of grand dame hotels. So imagine the excitement yesterday when we were on a tram in non-descript Zeebrugge, Belgium, and caught sight of the corner of what looked like a huge old hotel. We got off at the next stop and ran back to the building.
And this is what we found: the shell of what had obviously once been a belle epoque hotel, but sadly gone to seed and renovated into what looked like apartments, from the for sale signs in a few windows.
A local informed us that it had indeed been a hotel, but that it had closed after the war, and been apartments ever since. And, rootling around online, we established that this started life as the Palace Hotel, Zeebrugge, then was later called the Residence Palace.
According to the garbled Google translation on this page, it seems that the hotel was built in 1914, just after the port of Zeebrugge was founded in 1907, to attract rich German cruise passengers stopping off on their way from Hamburg to America.
A tipster pointed us in the direction of this “breaking news” story on Hyatt’s website claiming “unresolved contractual disputes with the hotel’s owner” for ducking out.
For several weeks Hyatt has been attempting resolution through a series of urgent communications with the hotel owner, Saudi Egyptian Touristic Development Company. Regrettably, resolution of the disputes has not been possible.
Could it maybe be over the issue of booze?
However, Egyptophiles, don’t lose heart just yet. The story also notes:
It is unfortunate that the contractual disputes have not been resolved, forcing us to exit this property, but this does not diminish how important Egypt is and will remain to the Hyatt brand. We will continue to operate two Hyatt hotels in Egypt, and are interested in pursuing new development opportunities there.
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The 100-room, all-suite Buckingham Hotel has announced it's shutting the doors on 28 February for a big-time renovation—but not before some "last chance rates" drop nights to as low as $119 for a Midtown property just two blocks from Central Park.
The only catch (and it's not much of a catch) is that, currently, that rate is only bookable by phone via a specific number - 212 246 1500, and asking for extension 3201. If you get put through to reservations, they will not be able to help. Trust us - we tried this morning and the cheapest rate they could find was $179 - the same as what we were seeing on the website.
It seems like availability is good - we asked for a few dates in February and they were all available at the $119 rate, but a two night minimum is required at weekends.